Success Story: Electric Power Research Instituteby SRP on November 14, 2023
The Electric Power Research Institute—known as EPRI—was born in the wake of the 1965 Great Northeastern Blackout. Shortly after 5pm, as millions of workers were heading home, an overloaded transmission line near Ontario, Canada “tripped” and went dark. Like contagion, the outage spread, quickly blacking out New York State entirely, and then cascading to seven surrounding states, leaving 30 million people without power. The incident revealed the vulnerability of our fragmented electric infrastructure, our growing dependence on it, and the catastrophic potential in the face of outages. It also sparked scrutiny from Congress, as well as calls for a unified approach to energy research, development, and planning. In response, Dr. Chauncey Starr—an electrical engineer and then dean of the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science—had an idea for a solution.
In 1972, Dr. Starr presented his vision for what would become EPRI to Congress in a formal hearing. Shortly thereafter, he got to work building the nonprofit with a mandate to lead objective, scientific energy research, development, and deployment. Established in Palo Alto, today EPRI has grown into a global organization, with three specialized labs and six offices in the US, including its location in the Stanford Research Park. Through its subsidiary, EPRI International, it has employees in more than a dozen countries.
EPRI recently celebrated 50 years of guiding the global energy industry into a more sustainable and efficient future. Essential to EPRI’s longevity has been its ability to understand new technologies and their impact on the energy industry. As a result, EPRI has expanded its areas of research and development and evolved its mandate to simultaneously help the world meet unprecedented global energy demand and work toward ambitious net-zero goals.
Today, the company’s mission is to advance safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy for society through global collaboration, science and technology innovation, and applied research. It pursues this mission through core research, strategic leadership, and technology innovation across key areas essential to safe, efficient, and reliable energy delivery and utilization.
EPRI—which is funded by partners in the energy sector, academia, and government—collaborates with over 450 companies in 45 countries. Together, EPRI and its member-partners join forces to drive innovation, identify and solve pressing energy issues, and leverage objective research to inform policy, among other mission-critical collaborations devised to improve quality of life and protect our global ecosystem.